My GMU Econ colleague Dan Klein, after reading this letter of mine, e-mails to me this suggestion:
Maybe you should put out a bleg asking for anyone to identify a single quotation of someone saying that maximizing income/material possessions is all there is to the good life.
Name one. NAME ONE!!!
Dan’s suggestion is excellent. I hereby so bleg.
I don’t doubt – and I doubt that Dan doubts – that a handful of hack pundits or weirdo extremists sometime in history have said such a thing. No proposition, no matter how bizarre, is without some champion at some time and somewhere. And so I ask that anyone who answers this bleg to identify precisely the person who asserted that maximizing income or material possessions is all there is to the good life, or that rising share values is a sufficient condition for causing human welfare to be as high as is humanly possible.
I’m quite confident that, if anyone has ever said or written such a thing, that person has neither garnered nor deserves the respect of anyone outside of a narrow range of benighted fanatics.